Is India on board with third party intervention in Kashmir? Ex-Norwegian PM’s Kashmir visit sparks theories

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Updated: November 28, 2018 9:58 AM

Bondevik’s trip to the troubled region came a day after the launch of the much-politicised Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan. The visit of the ex-Norwegian PM has sparked theories of a possible third-party mediation for peace in the valley.


Former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik met two top resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday and then left for New Delhi. (PIC: Twitter/ Mirwaiz Umar Farooq)

Has New Delhi finally changed its stance on third party intervention in the Kashmir issue or has the Centre been caught red-faced as a foreign dignitary met Kashmiri separatists considering that India has always maintained that it is a bilateral issue.

On Friday, former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik met two top resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and then left for New Delhi. Bondevik then met leaders in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir two days later.

Confirming the meeting, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “We explained our viewpoint to him. We don’t know what will be the outcome of this initiative. But we are hopeful that this leads to a meaningful beginning between the two countries, especially at a time when the opening of the Kartarpur corridor has been the first such positive measure taken by the two countries in some time now.“

Bondevik’s trip to the troubled region came a day after the launch of the much-politicised Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan. The visit of the ex-Norwegian PM has sparked theories of a possible third-party mediation for peace in the valley.

In a press conference held by Congress, its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the Centre of compromising on national security and violating a seven-decade-old “bilateral policy” on Kashmir. He further urged the media to question the Modi government as to “why a former prime minister of a foreign country was invited for a joint dialogue.”

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah also questioned the Indian government over the visit of former Prime Minister of Norway in Kashmir. Although he clarified on his Twitter account that he was “NOT upset in the least & welcome any initiative to break the ice”, he wanted “some clarity as to what is happening.”

Former interlocutor on Kashmir, Professor Radha Kumar welcomed the development but was skeptical. She told Greater Kashmir over phone, “Bondevik went to PaK in 2017 and earlier this year held a seminar in Oslo where Mashal Mullick (wife of JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik) spoke.”

She did however add that Bondevik’s visit was unlikely to have an official sanction from the Modi administration. “However, I would be happy if it did indicate opportunities for peacemaking for the government of India.”

Interestingly, the meeting was facilitated by the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation, reported The Hindu. It is also worth noting that Bondevik was the Prime Minister when Norway negotiated peace between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE rebels in 2005.

This is the first time since a foreign dignitary has held talks with the separatists since NDA came to power in 2014. New Delhi has always maintained its rigid stance on a foreign dignitary holding any meetings with the Kashmiri separatists, so the visit naturally raised eyebrows prompting theories of a possible resolution in the state.

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